UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned the Human Rights Council of rising populism and government authoritarianism in the face of current security threats, calling on delegates to protect the rights-based multilateral system.
OHCHR launched its highest-ever appeal for extra-budgetary funds, seeking US$253 million for its 2017 work programme, which aims to contribute to the sound governance of migration and advance implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
8 March 2017: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein delivered his annual report to the 34th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), warning of rising populism and government authoritarianism in the face of current security threats, and calling on delegates to protect the rights-based multilateral system.
The HRC is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27 February to 24 March 2017. Discussions are addressing human rights situations around the world, including Syria, disability rights, and the impacts of climate change on the rights of the child.
Calling 2017 a pivotal year for human rights, Zeid notes that terrorist attacks have thrust governments deeper into security-heavy responses. He urged delegates to “reverse the centrifugal forces” that threaten to break apart international and regional institutions, and “strengthen the centripetal forces” that are needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, end extreme poverty and benefit all societies.
Speaking at the opening of the session on 27 February, UN Secretary-General António Guterres also warned against populism and extremism, calling the spread of disregard for human rights a “disease” that threatens the world. He called for making prevention a priority, tackling the root causes of conflict, and taking early and effective action on human rights violations. UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Peter Thompson, in his address to the Council’s opening, highlighted the body’s essential role in peacebuilding, and praised its work in bridging divides.
Addressing a high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming, also on 27 February, Thompson noted that 95% of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in developing countries have been affected by the same ten conflicts since 1991, suggesting that the UN’s traditional approach to peace, security and post-conflict peacebuilding has not been effective. He reminded participants of recent UNGA and Security Council resolutions recognizing the concept of “sustaining peace,” acknowledging the connections between peace, sustainable development and human rights for a comprehensive and integrated approach to conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
HRC proceedings in the current 34th session include discussion of reports on: principles and practical guidance for protecting the human rights of migrants in the context of large or mixed movements (A/HRC/34/31); protecting child rights in the 2030 Agenda (A/HRC/23/27); and equality and non-discrimination in ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities (A/HRC/34/26). Other presentations to the session include: the annual report of Special Rapporteur John Knox on human rights obligations relating to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (A/HRC/34/49 and Add.1); reports on the respective human rights situations in Syria, South Sudan, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Korea, Burundi, Myanmar and Eritrea; and a joint report of two Special Rapporteurs on the need to regulate and phase out hazardous chemical pesticides in agriculture and promote a transition to sustainable agriculture practices.
Panel sessions are addressing the adverse impact of climate change on States’ efforts to realize the rights of the child, the rights of persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, and the human rights situation in Syria. The 34th session also includes the HRC’s annual full-day meeting on child rights, which will consider child rights in relation to information and communications technologies (ICT) and child sexual exploitation.
Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, presented her report on 3 March. She stressed that, while the 2030 Agenda requires that persons with disabilities have access to support, in practice many have been disempowered or even oppressed in the context of traditional care services. She called on governments to promote and invest in support services that allow for independence, autonomy and direct participation.
OHCHR launched its highest-ever appeal for extra-budgetary funds, seeking US$253 million to support the sound governance of migration and advance the 2030 Agenda.
Prior to the opening of the 34th session, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched its highest-ever appeal for extra-budgetary funds. OHCHR is seeking US$253 million to support its 2017 work programme, which aims to contribute to the sound governance of migration and advance implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Launching the appeal, Zeid noted that “a collective failure” to prevent and resolve conflicts has resulted in large-scale suffering and movements of people fleeing the impacts of war and conflict in many parts of the world. He stressed that “investment in human rights today makes for prevention tomorrow,” and said justice for all must be the aim.
On 23 February, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark briefed high-level representatives in New York on UNDP’s partnership with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and the OHCHR, which has been operating since 2011. She highlighted the role that NHRIs can play in providing early warnings of trouble, and monitoring and reporting on the state of human rights in post-conflict situations. [Zeid Update to HRC] [34th Session Webpage] [Agenda and Annotations] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Pesticides Report] [UN Press Release on Catalina Devandas Aguilar’s Report] [OHCHR Press Release on Funding Appeal] [UN Press Release on Opening Statements] [UNGA President’s Address on Sustaining Peace] [UNDP Administrator’s Address on NHRIs]